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Men's Basketball Q&A: Amadi Udenyi

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Amadi Udenyi will enter his fifth year as a Wave after receiving a medical redshirt last season. He talks to us about what his recovery process was like and his goals for his final season:

Amadi  Udenyi

Q: You have plans to come back for a fifth year. What influenced you to make that decision?

A: I think the biggest influence on my decision was that I didn't want to look back 10 years from now and say I quit on myself. And I also didn't want to end my college career with an injury.

Q: It will be your final year as a Wave. What does that mean to you? How has this program and the game of basketball itself affected you as a person?

A: My final year as a Wave definitely means I'm old! But I've cherished every moment of being at Pepperdine. This program has made me a better man and has given me the platform to be very successful in life after basketball.

Q: How are the team dynamics this year? Have you met any of the incoming freshmen?

A: The team dynamic is great this year but I feel like every team I've been on at Pepperdine has had great chemistry and the coaches do a great job at making sure we are a family, not just a basketball team. And yes, I met all the freshman this past month, and I can't wait to get the season started with them.

Q: Over the past four years, what have you learned by being a part of this team that you will apply to your final season?

A: The number one thing that I've learned over my past four seasons would be to give it your absolute all at every practice and game because you never know when it will end. I was blessed to receive a fifth year but if my career would've ended last year with that injury, I would've been devastated because I knew I had so much more to give to my team.

Q: Who or what inspires you to compete?

A: My mom inspires me to compete every day! She works so hard for my brothers and I and shows unconditional love. At the very least I know I can compete for her every time I step on the court.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you ruptured your Achilles tendon for the second time?

A: My initial reaction was I couldn't believe it happened again. But later that day I asked the trainer when was the earliest day I could get surgery and start rehab because I knew I wasn't going to let this injury end my college career.

Q: What was the rehabilitation process like?

A: Since it was my second time doing the rehab process it went smoothly.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive about recovering from such an incident?

A: It wasn't mentally difficult at all because I have strong faith and belief in God's plan and this is just part of it.

Q: At what level do you expect to play this season?

A: I expect to play at the highest level. I won't use this injury as an excuse at all.

Q: What is your schedule/plan like for the summer both on and off the court?

A: This summer my plan is to get in the best shape possible and be ready for my last season at Pepperdine. Off the court I intend to learn more about the game of basketball because I plan to coach my own team one day.

Q: How is training in the summer different than in season?

A: Summer training is extremely different compared to in season because during the season there are so many games that sometimes it gets hard to work on your game. To get better you have to stay in the training room just to keep your body healthy enough to get through the season. The summer is when you can work on all your weaknesses and get your body in shape to prepare for a great season.

Q: What kind of things are you working on with your weight training coach and your head coach?

A: With Coach Young I'm working on strengthening my lower body and just becoming more explosive overall. Because I am a fifth year, I am working with Coach Wilson to learn to be an overall leader. I know everyone on the team will follow my lead, especially the freshmen, so I have to make sure I am a great example for the rest of the team on and off the court.

Q: What are your goals coming into your final season?

A: Because it is my last season at Pepperdine, my number one goal is to win the WCC and make the tournament. All the other individual accolades will come for everyone on the team if we take care of the two major team goals.

Women's Tennis Q&A: Ashley Lahey

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2017 WCC Freshman of the Year and rising sophomore Ashley Lahey won her first USTA Pro Circuit event earlier this summer in Sumter, S.C. She talks to us about her experience and her goals for the future:
Ashley  Lahey

Q: You just won your first USTA Pro Circuit event. Was this your first professional event?

A: I played a few professional events last summer, but I haven't played in very many. The Sumter tennis tournament in the ITF Women's Circuit was the first tournament of the year for me so I didn't really have any expectations going in.

Q: Talk us through your experience and the atmosphere at the professional level compared to college.

A: Like any sport, the beginning level professional circuit is not nearly as glorious as the big leagues. The atmosphere itself was nothing special or exciting as there were not too many fans. I did meet an incredible family with some cute kids who became my fan club for the week and it was super fun having them cheer me on and come running to hug me after my matches. Many of the players in the tournament were college players. Mixed in were some top juniors and rising professionals. The competition was incredible. I couldn't believe how hard I had to fight for every match.

Q: How does your age impact your play? Do you feel like being a young sophomore helps you on the court or can be difficult to overcome at times?

A: For me, the biggest positive of being young is realizing that I have a lot of time to really develop my game. Therefore I can focus on the process of improving and don't have to stress about results as much as older players. Having said that, I still do put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed. One tough part of being young is not having as much experience as some of the older players.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

A: To me the tournament served as a step in the right direction. It told me that my efforts are paying off and if I continue to improve, I have a shot at making it one day. I also learned how important acting professionally, such as eating the right meals, sleeping the right amount and practicing at the right times, is to succeeding. It's going to be a really tough journey, but one I'm excited to take on.

Q: What were your emotions after winning?

A: I was really excited. As I said, it's a step in the right direction and it's fun to see hard work pay off.

Q: What are your next tournaments for the summer?

A: I actually earned a few wildcards into some 60k tournaments, which are a much higher level. I am excited to be able to compete against some very successful players.

Q: What are you learning in the summer tournaments that you will bring onto the court come the fall and spring?

A: I am learning how to win matches with strategy versus physical strength or fitness. I am becoming more well-rounded and also learning how to hold my nerves and play my best game under a lot of pressure.

Q: When did you start playing and who introduced you to tennis?

A: I started playing with my mom when I was about four years old.

Q: What goals do you want to accomplish in the next three years?

A: In the next three years I definitely hope to crack the ranking of top 100 players, though I know that will be very difficult, especially considering that I will be balancing my college education with my athletics!

Men's Volleyball Q&A: Weston Barnes

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Redshirt senior Weston Barnes recently took a trip to the NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, to take part in the NCAA Career in Sports Forum, a leadership development conference for student-athletes looking to continue a career in sports. Weston is a returning member of the Waves Leadership Council:


Weston  Barnes

Q: What was the primary focus of the NCAA Career in Sports Forum?


A: The forum was designed to allow student-athletes to explore career paths within intercollegiate athletics and connect with a variety of different leaders in the industry of college sports. Another purpose of the forum was to develop leadership traits and build connections with peers and mentors.


Q: Who all was selected to go?


A: There were 240 student-athletes from all over the country, covering all three NCAA divisions. It was a great mix of student-athletes from every sport. Being the only Pepperdine representative, people would identify me by my school and say something like, "Yo Pepperdine, what up?!"


Q: Did you meet a lot of people from different schools in similar stages of life?


A: I found it very easy to connect with people because we all held the same mindset. It seemed like 90 percent of the student-athletes at the forum had either just graduated or were within a year of graduating. Most of us will be facing some big career decisions soon, and I think all of us are striving to establish a career in athletics. A common theme amongst us is that we share a passion for improving the life of student-athletes, and that really brought us together. I connected with some really cool people who were driven in the same direction as me, and getting to bond with these people made the trip extremely fulfilling.


Q: What was your biggest take-away from the forum?


A: I took in more from the leadership development seminars and activities than anything. I learned what it means to have a purpose and how to identify that purpose. Furthermore, I learned to use my purpose to build a personal brand and convey my brand in a proper manner. Ultimately my favorite learning experience was a personality assessment that I engaged in with the other student-athletes. I discovered my personality type to be Conscientious, which tends to be analytical and systematic. Then they put us in groups typed by personality. It was mind blowing to see the similarities among us. We discussed ways to understand and improve interaction among the different personalities in a group setting. Having the assessment at our fingertips improved communication among student-athletes for the rest of the weekend. I gained a lot from the personality assessment.


Q: Do you have any fun memories of outside activities?


A:  Picture this, 100-plus student athletes all in the same restaurant to watch game one of the NBA Finals. The place was on fire because of a heated rivalry of Warriors and Cavs fans that continued throughout the whole weekend. You could literally eavesdrop on conversations of people arguing about whether LeBron is the greatest player of all time ... I mean, come on, I thought we were all college educated here.


Q: How did it feel to be nominated to attend the conference by Senior Associate Director of Athletics Karina Herold?


A: I was thrilled when Karina said she would nominate me. I had only been a WLC member for one year so I thought my chances of being selected were slim, but, I asked James Gehrels to review my application. He and I made sure my application was on point, and I think that really helped my chances. Once I received word that I was accepted, I was so fired up for the trip and I don't think that excitement died until I left Indy. With 240 student-athletes around, the energy was high at all times.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Hayley Duren

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Rising sophomore Hayley Duren talks about her season-ending injury that occurred before the start of her freshman year and how she has recovered. She also shares with us her personal goals for this upcoming season and the team dynamics:

Hayley  Duren

Q: You weren't able to play during your freshman year, can you talk about that experience and what it was like for you?

A: It was hard not playing my freshman year, especially with my injury being so close to the start of season. It was especially the hardest when we started conference games because I wished I was in the game battling with our team to win.

Q: Was it your first injury in your basketball career?

A: This was my first major injury that required surgery.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive during your recovery?

A: My teammates and coaches helped keep me involved and not let me get down. When it got difficult, I was constantly reminded to look back at how far I've come and see the good in this process.

Q: Who or what motivated you the most during your recovery process?

A: My teammates and coaches have motivated me throughout this process to stay focused and to improve my muscle strength, mobility and overall skill set. I just can't wait to get back on the court again. Basketball is my passion and I miss it.

Q: Was there any specific person that really helped you as you worked through that last year?

A: My mom flew out from Florida and was there for me right out of surgery and spent two weeks out here taking care of me. Coach DeLisha played a huge role in my recovery process. She was always the person I went to for guidance. She is phenomenal at what she does and I couldn't have asked for a better mentor and coach.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most once you are finally able to get back out there and compete next season?

A: I am looking forward to competing with our team. Especially competing playing against Gonzaga, LMU, BYU and Pacific. We are capable of upsetting teams this season and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: Personally I want to make an impact on both ends of the floor and have aspirations to be on the All-Freshman team.

Q: With the Waves adding six more members to the team next year, have you gotten to meet any of them yet?

A: Yes, we have two incoming seniors who are going to bring leadership to our young team and we also have two of the four freshmen on campus right now. All six new members will be great additions to our team and will have a positive impact on our play this season.

Q: What has the summer routine been like for you?

A: Summer workouts have been great, they're competitive and upbeat. We're having fun while working hard and bringing positive energy each day. The season isn't until November, but we're training like "November is Now" as Coach DeLisha says it best.

Q: How does having most of your teammates around in the summer help with the bonding?

A: We have more free time because we are only taking one class, so outside of basketball and workouts we have the luxury to hang out and go out as a team. We've also volunteered to swim with disabled kids.

Women's Basketball Q&A: Kim Jacobs

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Kim Jacobs is the only returning senior on the Pepperdine women's basketball team. As her final year is approaching, she shares her plans for the summer and her goals for the future:

Kim  Jacobs

Q: What are your plans for the summer both on and off the court?

A: Off the court, I have already had an exciting summer. Since June and July are the months to be here with the team working out and taking summer school, May and August are the two months for more off-the-court activities. In May, I went to South Carolina to visit my mom who just recently moved there, went to Disneyland, went to the beach a few times and went to a couple concerts. In August I don't have any major plans, just some babysitting, coaching and hanging out with friends. On the court, I plan to just continue working hard and improving my game. I want to be stronger and in the best shape as any of my previous years since it is my last go-round. If I can accomplish this, I believe it will help my overall game. I also want to improve my shooting. Since I like to think that's what I do best, I want to be able to come into games doing that at my highest potential, and know exactly what I need to do to help the team be successful this year.

Q: What are your summer workouts like?

A: Summer workouts are very intense and exciting with Coach DeLisha. Not only on the court but off the court, we are working extremely hard to be the best team we can possibly be. We have limited time on the court during the summer, but Coach D makes sure we use every minute to the fullest and doesn't waste any time. We work a lot on ball handling and shooting. The drills she has us working on, and the energy and intensity she brings to workouts every day, really allow us to come out of our shell and be more confident in every part of our game. This makes it really challenging, but it is also very fun and rewarding, because I can personally say that I have seen a drastic improvement in just the few weeks we have been here.

Q: What are you most excited about for your senior year?

A: For my senior year, I am excited to see myself grow as a person not only on the court but off the court as well. I am very excited to see how this season turns out because it is all very new to us with all of the adjustments being made, but I think it will be a great year for us. Off the court, I am just excited to get ready to start a new chapter in my life and see where Pepperdine takes me after I graduate. It is the last year that I will ever be a student-athlete, so I am excited to live this last year to my fullest both on and off the court.

Q: What are you looking to get out of your senior year? In general and in basketball?

A: Basketball-wise, I hope to be able to say that I gave it my all and be able to look back on this year specifically and be happy about everything that happened. I just want to have no regrets because like I said, it is my last year being a student-athlete and I will never get these years back. In general, I have the same kind of hopes. And I am happy about how everything turned out. I am looking to take my last major classes and graduate on time with good grades. I am just looking to get the best experience as possible out of my final year here at Pepperdine.

Q: Do you feel an increased responsibility to be leader as the only returning senior in the roster?

A: I definitely feel the pressure to be more of a leader than I have had to be in the past because I am going to be the only returning senior. I have spoken with Coach D many times about this specifically and she said she wants me to be more of a leader not only by example but as a spoken leader too. At first, it was very challenging to me as I am more of a reserved individual, but it has been getting easier as practices go on and I get more comfortable with it. I also feel like I need to step up as more of a leader not only for my returning teammates, but also the new ones, since there will be so many of them.

Q: What are you most excited about for the new players coming in?

A: I am excited to see how each one of them fits into our team's atmosphere and to see each of them make an immediate impact on the court for our team. I know each one of them brings something unique and valuable to this team that will be helpful in the upcoming season. I am also excited to see each of them grow on and off the court as time goes by. I am also excited because it will definitely be helpful in practice to have some extra players because this month in June we have only had about five or six people, so it will definitely help practice run more smoothly with more bodies.

Q: Looking back, what would you label as your biggest accomplishment during your basketball career at Pepperdine?

A: I would say my biggest accomplishment is seeing myself grow year by year and not only improving on my faults but also my best attributes. It is a crazy thing to think back to freshman year when I was a very shy basketball player coming right out of high school, and be able to go through and think about the different goals that I have set over the years and how I have accomplished them. I have become stronger not only physically but also mentally. I have become an overall better person because of this experience that I have been a part of.

Q: If you could give any advice to the team once you leave, especially the new players who will be coming in next year, what would it be?

A: I would tell them to live each moment to the fullest and not take any moment for granted because the time you have in college is limited and it goes very fast. I know 6 a.m. conditioning, running on the court, and the time commitment that college basketball requires, doesn't seem fun in the moment, but you're there with the people you love the most, that you have the most fun times with, and that you call your family. So make the best out of those times that you have with them, whether it be conditioning or just hanging out, because it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Q: What do you think is the hardest part about being a student-athlete?

A: I think most people who aren't familiar with college sports don't realize the time commitment that is put into being a student athlete. In the offseason we are sometimes waking up at 5 a.m. for conditioning or weights and then also have two-hour practices and have class and homework and have to find time to eat in the midst of all of that. And then during season we are traveling and away from class and having to figure out what we missed from other classmates. It is very tiring, but I think the hardest part is having good time management because you have so many things to do with such little time.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve by the end of your senior year at Pepperdine?

A: My goals, like I stated before are to do everything my hardest and to my fullest potential, whether it's on the basketball court or off. I want to get some of my best grades since I've been here at Pepperdine. On the court, I want to have my most successful season out of my four years here.

Men's Basketball Q&A: Kameron Edwards

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After sitting out his second year as a Wave due to injury, Kameron Edwards is now fully recovered. He remains determined and more motivated to get better so he can lead the team to a successful season in 2017-18. He talks about what his recovery process was like, how it feels to be back on the court and his anticipation for the upcoming season.

Kameron  Edwards

Q: You are coming off a tough season, can you talk about what you went through last year?

A: Last year was really tough, not only due to being injured, but also seeing what our team went through as a whole. It was really hard to watch the team struggle, especially knowing I was part of the reason why and knowing there was nothing I could do about it.

Q: What was your initial reaction when you fractured your jaw?

A: When I first fractured my jaw I was really frustrated because I had just recently recovered from a concussion. I also wasn't sure how it would affect our season at the time but overall it was a frustrating experience.

Q: What was the rehabilitation process like?

A: The rehabilitation process was very slow. For six to seven weeks I couldn't eat any solid food or do any physical activity. But when I finally returned to the court I jumped back into things pretty quickly and felt great. I had only lost a few pounds from the broken jaw so lifting again was fine along with everything else.

Q: Was it mentally difficult to stay positive about recovering from such an incident?

A: It wasn't very difficult. I had the mindset that I was going to come back even better than I was before and I feel that's exactly what is happening. I was able to watch a lot of basketball in my time off and I think it really helped me see the game from a different view. More than anything I've been looking forward to next season and knowing it's going to be a good one.

Q: How long did it take before you felt comfortable being back out on the court?

A: After being able to work out again it only took about a week and a half for me to feel comfortable on the court.

Q: How does it feel to be back out there with your teammates?

A: It's a feeling that I really took for granted before the injury. My teammates are like brothers so being able to grind with them every day is a special feeling that I never want to take for granted again.

Q: Do you have personal goals that you hope to achieve for this upcoming season?

A: My biggest personal goal is to be more of a leader for this team. We have a lot of new guys coming in and this will be my third year here so it's partly my job to be a voice and example that the team can follow.

Q: What can fans expect this season?

A: Fans can expect a very athletic team that is going to play hard and compete every time we are on the floor. We will definitely be a top three team in the WCC again and will be pushing to win a conference championship. They can also expect to see some new faces on the team that will be the next generation of Pepperdine greats.

Q: What are your plans for the summer both on and off the court?

A: My plans for the summer include getting to know the freshmen and other new guys and working out with them. I also plan on going home a lot and spending time with friends and family.

Q: What are your summer workouts like?

A: Summer workouts have been pretty intense. Our 6 a.m. conditioning has included us running on the soccer field and running timed miles. We lift three days a week and those have been going well. Also our practices have very productive and competitive.

Q: What are you most excited about for your junior year?

A: I'm most excited to have friends back from abroad and for them to be able to come to games and see our new team. After two years of being at Pepperdine I feel like I know the ropes pretty well so I want to start enjoying the time I have left here with my friends and teammates and be less stressed since I am adjusted to college by now.

Beach Volleyball Q&A: Madalyn Roh

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After helping the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team attain a runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships, rising junior Madalyn Roh is ready to take on her third year as a Wave. But first, she shares with us her plans for the summer. She also reflects on the past year as well as the year ahead:
Madalyn  Roh

Q: What is your transition like from being in-season to the offseason?

A: Very weird, the change of pace can be frustrating and relaxing at the same time. It is very strange going from training four hours day after day, traveling and competing, to just nothing after such an intense season.

Q: How do you spend your time off?

A: Training mostly on my own and focusing on the little things I can do by myself or with other players around me since coaches cannot coach us over summer.

Q: What is your schedule/plans like for the summer both on and off the court?

A: Most players compete over the weekends in semi-pro type tournaments. We use these competitions to keep our competitive edge and test the waters with new scenarios against people and pairs we don't usually see during the season.

Q: How is training in the summer different than in season?

A: Very laid-back. There isn't an obligation to do anything since our preseason is so long, but we can't help ourselves but continue staying in shape and mostly getting better or recovering from such an intense season.

Q: What kind of things does Coach Nina Matthies want you to work on in the summer?

A: Our coach is great because she understands balance. Yes, I'm sure she has a list of things for all of us to work on, but she understands the intensity and length of our preseason once school starts. Summer is for rest, rejuvenation and keeping your sand legs.

Q: What do you think you learned the most from your sophomore year that you'll take with you as you move forward?

A: I have learned more about the analytical and technical side of the game this year. My partner last year was very seasoned and wise when it came to strategy, so I learned a lot from her, but now I am a more seasoned player so I want to take that strategy sense into next year. Beach volleyball is like a chess match, you must go in with a plan but adjust to your opponent's moves.

Q: What are you goals going into your junior year?

A: Finish what we started last year: win a national championship.

Q: What have you changed about your training routine for this year to make sure that you are continually getting better?

A: Form. Form in how I swing, approach to the ball, serve, etc. Matt Young, our strength and conditioning coach, is very diligent when it comes to form. Last year we really focused on technique and it really carried over into our playing.

Q: What inspires you to play volleyball?

A: My team and our goals. The culture we establish from the very beginning forces us to train and compete for a higher purpose and cause. We aren't just doing these things for ourselves. We are doing it for each other, which draws us closer as we aim to reach that one goal.

Q: Tell us what motto you live your life by?

A: Don't waste your suffering: It's a saying by John Piper, a notable preacher. I link it to the Bible verse Romans 5:3-4: "Not only so, be we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Basically, no matter what you go through, make it count, whether it's bad or good, easy or awful, it's going to build you as a person.

Q: I want to find out what your typical day looks like and how you keep yourself in such good shape ... It's morning, you've just woken up. What's next?

A: On an average day of training -- during the season -- I would take my vitamins and drink a glass of water straight when I wake up and start to get some water brewing for tea. Then, after I brush my hair, put on clothes, and wash my face, it's time to grub. Usually I would have quinoa, sweet potato hash, and some green veggies, sometimes with an egg. On conditioning days, I replace the quinoa with a thin strip of ribeye. After brushing my teeth I'm off to school then I come back for lunch which is some form of meat and veggies at least two hours before practice and then another snack 30 minutes pre-practice.

Q: What's your favorite way to fuel your body first thing in the morning?

A: Ribeye.

Q: How important is breakfast to you?

A: Extremely, if I don't eat breakfast it throws off my whole body and I also don't get the sufficient amount of fuel I need to train.

Q: Do you snack during the day?

A: Oh yes. My snack range from almonds, dates, almond butter with celery and carrots, protein bar, sauerkraut, kimchi, fruit and dark chocolate.

Q: Can you talk to us about food supplements? What do you use? What do you think works well?

A: I love vitamin C, D, A, fish oils, and L-Glutamine. If I'm sick I take oregano, which kills the virus very quickly and the bad bacteria in my system. The basic vitamins I think are great immune boosters, especially for athletes, because we put a lot of pressure on our immune system with practices and stress.

Q: What are huge dietary no-no's?

A: I'm paleo, so I don't eat wheat, dairy or refined sugar. But paleo isn't for everybody. For me, a dietary no-no is eating sugary candies. Sugar is just straight up bad for the nervous system. So I like to stay away from stuff like Sour Patch Kids.

Q: Do you have another hobby that is part of your daily routine?

A: Cooking, I love to cook my own food but also experiment with flavors and ingredients.

Laura Gulbe is a junior on the Pepperdine women's tennis team. She has had a great spring season, earning All-WCC second team honors, clinching a big win against Stanford and helping the Waves to another WCC title. She shares about her experiences growing up, as well as her time at Pepperdine:
Laura  Gulbe

Q: What was it like growing up in Latvia?

A: I lived there until I was about 14 and then I went to school to practice tennis in Spain for three years, so I have an international background. I lived in Austria and trained there too for two years. Growing up in Latvia was unbelievable. It was a lot of fun and it was awesome being around my family. It is such a nice place to grow up in because of all the nature.

Q: When did you start playing tennis?

A: I was almost nine, so that was somewhat of a late start. I really liked it immediately. I wanted to play because my brothers played and I really wanted to beat them.

Q: You have a family of athletes? How has that affected your athletic career?

A: My family on my dad's side is very athletic, but my mom's side isn't at all. The biggest thing is that it is competitive and there are so many things that translate from athletics into real life. It taught me some very valuable lessons at a young age like overcoming adversity.

Q: How did you get in contact with Pepperdine?

A: One of my brother's friends played for the head coach at Pepperdine, and he told me that Per was looking for players. I messaged Per and I really liked him from the first time we talked. After that, I wanted to go to Pepperdine so badly.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine?

A: There are so many reasons to choose Pepperdine! Obviously academics was a big reason and I really like how small it is. I came for an official visit, and after I made the decision to go to college, Pepperdine was the only choice.

Q: Have you enjoyed living in Malibu?

A: Oh, it has been amazing and so much fun. The girls from my team are awesome. We are all so different, but we are chasing the same goals. Sometimes we get after each other, but it's for good reasons.

Q: What is your favorite memory of your last three years with the Waves, on or off the court?

A: The last two weeks (before the WCC Championships) have been crazy. We beat Stanford and I got the chance to clinch there. We played BYU and San Diego, and then we played USC and I got to clinch again. I got chills all over my body. It is so special to play for something bigger than yourself. Having the team just creates so much energy. People always ask me how I do sports and school and not get tired, and although it is tiring, you get so much energy from your sport that it transfers over to your schoolwork and it also works the other way around.

 Q: You clinched the Waves' second-ever win over Stanford to beat the Cardinal, how did that moment feel?

A: It felt like relief. Ashley was on the court next to me, and all the girls were there, so we were really in it together. I did not feel that much pressure because I thought that if I didn't have it, then Ashley is going to take it. Obviously, I wanted to get the point first because you never know what can happen. The ball is round, and it can bounce either way, and sometimes you can get a little lucky. It felt so amazing and I was so excited.

Q: How has this year's season been for you?

A: The beginning of the spring season was a little bit hard because during the fall I had some injuries and it wasn't the best personally. I just started looking at it from the perspective of taking every moment and making the best of it. It doesn't matter if you feel bad or something isn't going right, you just take every chance you have. Sometimes you can only give 70%, but at that time it is your 100%. Give it your best and it normally works out. This season the girls have been getting along better and better each week, and our coach has helped us with the small things, which eventually become the big things. We are very fortunate to be here and have such great people around. For example, our academic advisor came to our match yesterday and our athletic director comes to all our matches. That's part of why Pepperdine was the choice.

Q: What are your summer plans?

A: That's a good question. I am staying here for May for the NCAAs and hopefully we are going to win that. I am taking a class in June and the goal is to learn something new.

Jeremy Major is a graduating senior on the men's basketball team. He ended his four-year career setting the school's all-time records in assists and games started. He looks back at his career and time at Pepperdine overall:

Jeremy  Major
Q: Looking back over your college career, what are you most proud of?

A: Looking back on my career I would say that I am most proud of the culture change I had the opportunity to be part of. During the time I was getting recruited it was tough to hear people ask me why I was going to Pepperdine since they had been having losing seasons for the last couple of years. When I arrived here, along with some of my fellow teammates in my class, to join guys like Stacy Davis and Jett Raines, it was the start of trying to do our best to change the culture. By the end of my junior year the culture had changed drastically and it felt good to see the student body as well as the faculty feel the same way.

Q: What was your favorite moment of this past season?

A: I would say my favorite moment of this season would be when we beat BYU. We have done it in the past but for how this season was going due to injuries and a lot of adversity it was great to see all of us come together and beat a good BYU team, who was the only team to beat Gonzaga before they lost in the national championship.

Q: Now that a little time has passed, how does it feel to have set the school records for assists and games started? Has that sunk in?

A:
I never had the expectations of breaking any records when I came here. I just wanted to come out each game, give it my all and live with the results. It is an awesome accomplishment and I thank Coach Wilson for having the trust in me as a freshman to put the ball in my hands. What has sunk in, and that's pretty crazy, is that within the last two years, two records that have lasted for 30 years have been broken back-to-back. I'm glad I can be in the same company as my brother and big fella Stacy Davis.

Q: How do you feel about graduation coming up?


A:
It's a bittersweet feeling. College has been an outstanding time and it's a time of my life that I will remember forever. The relationships, the memories, and the brotherhood I have with my teammates will last forever. At the same time, I am thankful that I am graduating and excited that I will hopefully continue to play professionally.

Q: How about for your team? What do you think you'll take away from playing with this team over the past four years?


A:
I took from this year never take anything for granted, whether it be your health, people in your life, or just being able to do something you love. It's easy to get discouraged but no matter how much adversity comes, be thankful for the opportunities you have and do your best to get the most of any situation.

Q: What have you been doing since the end of the season? How has the time been for you?

A:
I have been enjoying these final weeks with my brothers. It's crazy that in a couple of weeks we probably won't see each other for months. So I have just been enjoying my time with them as well as my friends. But I cannot lie: the non-athlete college life is pretty fun, but maybe just a little too much free time for me!

Track Q&A: Kendall Dunn

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Kendall Dunn, a graduating senior on the women's track team, came into Pepperdine as a transfer during her sophomore year. She looks back on her college career, which recently came to an end:


Kendall  Dunn


Q: You were the best 800 runner this year, and rank #3 all-time in the event at Pepperdine. How does that feel for you?


A: It is an amazing feeling! It's funny because I have been a 400-meter hurdler during my entire career at Pepperdine, but due to a recent back injury my coach and I decided it would be best to train for a less-strenuous event for the second half of the season. That being said, I am very happy to say I am ranked #3 all-time in an event I have only ran a total of three times in my life! I owe it all to (Venus Jewett) Coach V's training and the foundation she has built for our program.


Q: What made you decide to transfer here to Pepperdine?


A: I was originally recruited by a different university on a full-ride track and field scholarship. The school was beautiful and was great academically, but after a few short weeks I continued to find myself a victim to sexual harassment. After weeks of feeling violated and isolated, I decided to forgo the opportunity to run for that particular university. Once I left that school, I decided that safety was going to be a top priority as I searched for a new school to transfer to. Pepperdine was by far one of the best places to ensure I would be living in a safe environment. I also struggled with my faith when I was younger and I wanted to attend a school that would strengthen and rebuild my faith. I am happy to say that Pepperdine has given me that opportunity and I have grown and continue to grow closer to the Lord. The beautiful location and the amazing teammates I am able to train with every day are just added bonuses!


Q: How have you liked your three years here?


A: My three years here have been absolutely unforgettable. Being at Pepperdine has allowed me to strengthen all aspects of my life, whether it be my relationship with God, family, friends, academics, community involvement and so on. I'm so lucky to have been given the opportunity to attend an academically renowned college while also competing at the Division I level in the sport I love. I'm also happy to say that the relationships I have built with friends, teammates and staff members along the way will continue to prevail once I graduate. I would relive these three years over and over again if possible because of all the memories and accomplishments I have made over the course of my college career.


Q: What's it like to look back on your college track career?


A: Overwhelming. This sport has given me a lot of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. I believe every athlete can relate to this. But I don't think I would be where I am today without track because track literally saved my life. You see, when I was 14 years old, I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma skin cancer. After being diagnosed, I became very sick and had to undergo multiple surgeries, which led to my absence from track during my sophomore year of high school. The one thing that I used as my escape - track -- had vanished and I felt very angry and depressed during that time. So after hearing the doctor say, "If you had waited a couple more months to get your skin checked you would have been dead in a year," it ignited a drive and motivation from within me that I had never felt before. Hearing that you were on the brink of death isn't something you take lightly, so from that moment on I made it my goal to treat every meet, every practice and every step like it was my last. That being said, after looking back on my college career, I am glad to say I did just that. Track has taught me to never take my life for granted and to glorify God by using the ability he has so graciously given me.


Q: What's your favorite memory from your Pepperdine career?


A: Other than Tori's mediocre limbo skills, I would have to say my favorite memory was the conclusion of our 2015-2016 season. We ended the season with so many broken school records and it was exciting to be a part of that experience. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your hard work being paid off by breaking records!


Q: What about in general a favorite memory from your time at Pepperdine?


A: I really enjoyed participating in Songfest during my sophomore year. Songfest was the first time I truly got involved on campus and it allowed me to build new friendships and create memories that will last a lifetime. Once I graduate and look back on my Pepperdine career, Songfest will always be one of the first memories that come to mind.


Q: How has it been running for these coaches?


A: I have absolutely loved running for these coaches. Coach Radnoti has been there for us constantly at practice and keeps our team organized. But I spend most of my hours with Coach V, since she is the sprint/hurdle coach. Coach V has gone above and beyond my expectations as a coach. She genuinely cares about our success as athletes and every workout is carefully crafted to ensure that she is training us to the best of her ability, and there is nothing more loving than that. Besides being a coach, she has been a role model to me and sets an example of how I wish to lead my life once I graduate from Pepperdine. She is an example of a strong, courageous, fun and fabulous woman, and I am going to miss her more than words can describe.


Q: How about running with these teammates?


A: I don't even know where to begin in describing how amazing these teammates are. As a transfer student, I was so worried that I might feel left out upon joining the team. Fortunately, after a few practices and getting to know the girls on and off the track, I immediately felt welcomed. They enjoy sporadic dancing with me at practice, they understand my love for food, and I know I can always count on them when I need a shoulder to lean on. I really don't know what I would have done without these amazing women during my Pepperdine career.


Q: Are you excited for graduation?


A: Absolutely! Not only will my degree signify the completion of college, but it will also be a time to reflect on all of my academic accomplishments and hard work. Better yet, I will also be celebrating the day with close family and friends. It will be such an incredible memory and I am excited to hit this milestone in my life. I owe it all to God and also to those who contributed to paving my path along the way.


Q: Do you have any plans for after graduation?


A: I plan on winning the lottery and crossing the first thing off on my bucket list, which is to travel to the Nyungwe Forest in Africa to play with chimpanzees!

Junior pitcher Kiko Garcia speaks with us about this year's team, and about the seniors that he has played with for the last three years. The Waves take on rival LMU in a three-game WCC series in Malibu starting Friday.

Kiko  Garcia

Q: The Waves are coming off of a couple of tough games against BYU and USCB. What does the team need to do to get back on track and finish the conference season strong?

A: I think we need to get back to the things we were doing earlier in the year that were working for us. Coming from the perspective of a pitcher, we were successful in getting ahead early and attacking hitters, and I think that we just haven't been executing like we should be as of late. Mentally, we are all there. We know what we need to do. We just need to execute.

Q: Each year you have been here, the teams have all had something special about them. What do you think that "something" is for this year's squad?

A:  I think that this year, the team has such great chemistry. There haven't been any fights between the guys. We are all super close, and we are absolutely set up for success.

Q:  As a junior, you have spent your entire career with the seniors of this year. How have they influenced you in your career at Pepperdine?

A:  They have definitely laid the groundwork for all of the success in the past. They are probably my favorite senior group that I have played with at Pepperdine. They really get the team motivated to play each and every day, and are really good role models for the younger guys.

Q: Do you have a favorite memory with any of the seniors?

A: I think it has to be with Chandler Blanchard. As a pitching staff, we come together on road trips and make music with him. A funny example is when we went to Texas this year. We made a little bit of a soundtrack, and it was a lot of fun to make, and we had a lot of laughs doing so.

Q: How do you think the leadership of the seniors has helped your leadership with the freshmen and sophomores?

A: I think that they set a standard of what Pepperdine baseball is all about. There is definitely a high standard of play here, higher than other schools, it feels, and I think that the seniors have done a great job of making that standard known.

Q: As a junior, you only have one more year after this as a Wave, what are you most looking forward to as a senior?

A: Making the most of my career here. It could be the last year of baseball I ever play, so I just want to make the best of it and embrace the memories. I will be leaving all I have on the field for sure.

Q: Do you have plans for your post grad? Are you looking to play ball after school?

A: If it happens, it happens, and it would be great. Realistically, it's super hard to make it all the way, but if the opportunity arises, I will absolutely take it. If not, I want to go to grad school and become a normal person again.

Q: Finally, with the season getting nearer to the end, what can we expect from the Waves coming down the stretch?

A: I think you will see a lot of fight. A lot more than you have seen recently. We are going to compete as hard as we can. Especially this week against LMU. They are one of our biggest rivals, and it is always a really competitive series. We just need to execute and get it done to get a chance to go to the conference tournament, and as far as we can run with it.

Emma Engelland is a freshman on the Pepperdine women's track team. Although she doesn't have a very long running history and it's her first year of running track at the college level, she's had an incredibly strong start and set the school record in the 100-meter hurdles. She reflects on her first season as well as her goals going forward.


Emma  Engelland

Q: So you set a school record in your first season here at Pepperdine! How does having that achievement so early on feel for you?


A: It is such an honor to be able to contribute to the team in a way such as this. It is very rewarding and validating to achieve big goals, but ultimately it is a reminder of how well I am coached and supported.  My coaches have put so much energy and thought into my training and my teammates have kept me accountable and supported me every step of the way. I am extremely proud to be a part of this team and this amazing group of women.


Q: You initially set the record, but it wasn't allowed due to a wind-aided time, before you came back and set it officially. Was it disappointing running fast but not being able to set the record because of the technicality?


A: I remember running across the finish line, and I could tell it was going to be a fast time. I immediately looked up at my coach and she yelled down to me from the stands that I had gotten it, but it was wind-aided. In that moment, I was frustrated, but I knew that I couldn't control the wind. I controlled what I could, and there was no use dwelling on the rest. That race validated the training that I had been doing and made me excited to run again the next week.


Q: How did it feel to set the record that next week after losing out on the technicality the first week? Did it make the achievement more special or better?


A: After running my wind-aided time, I started researching online how much the wind improves times. Of course this was silly and unnecessary, but I was worried I wouldn't be able to PR again the next week. At UCLA a week later, when I crossed the finish line and saw my time, it was a pretty cool feeling. It felt good to claim the record for real just seven days later. Also I have to give a huge shout out to my teammates and coach for being so incredibly supportive at that meet. They made me feel so special and were so proud of me. Nothing's better than being recognized by those you look up to most. They are pretty incredible people.


Q: What is your background with running?


A: My path is different than most in that I actually haven't been running for very long. In middle school I did track for a couple years, but only ran my senior year of high school. I was blessed with great coaching for that year and quickly picked up hurdling, along with a passion for the sport. I am extremely humbled to have the opportunity to run in college. It was never part of the plan, but it has certainly become one of the biggest blessings in my life.


Q: What led you to choose to come to Pepperdine and run for Pepperdine?


A: I was interested in Pepperdine for many of the same reasons as many other students: the study abroad programs, the class and school size, the quality of education and the incredible professors. But I didn't make my decision until I stepped on the campus. I felt so safe and comfortable, and was just struck by its incredible beauty. Because I only ran my senior year, track was almost an after-thought, to be honest. When I applied, I didn't even know I was going to be running track in high school. Coach Rad was great though, and helped me to feel like despite my lack of experience, I could run here.


Q: Has it been an adjustment at all coming here to Pepperdine and running track now in college?


A: I have certainly grown and changed a lot this year, and it would be untruthful to say it has been a walk in the park, but I have absolutely loved my time here so far. I have found the transition to be fairly smooth, no doubt in part because of my team, who acts as my family here on campus. I love my busy schedule and practices and classes so it makes the constant activity worth it.


Q: How have you liked your teammates?


A: I cannot speak highly enough about this group of girls. This team is without a doubt the best group I have ever had the privilege of belonging to. These girls are so passionate about our sport, but also about school and each other. They are the type of girls that ask how you are doing, and stick around for the answer. I can never repay them for all the listening ears and advice and even the snarky comments they so frequently send my way. Truly, I am blown away by the way they live their lives and I am inspired by each one of them.


Q: How have you liked running for these coaches?


A: Both Coach Rad and Coach V have been incredibly supportive, but Coach V is our sprint coach, so I spend much more time with her. She is an amazing leader, teacher, athlete and coach. She is so transparent with us and while her expectations are very high, she never jeopardizes our well-being for our performance. She treats us so well and really takes the time to understand each of her athletes learning styles to be able to best serve them. It is an honor to train under her.


Q: What are your goals going forward?


A: One thing Coach V always reminds me to do is to have fun. I often become so focused that I forget to enjoy the incredible sport I get to do every day. I am working towards being able to relax and enjoy my time here. I would love one last PR at the meet in Long Beach, but then my job is just to heal up and stay in shape over the summer.


Q: Is there anything else you want to say or reflect on as you go into your last meet this season?


A: I would just like to thank the seniors, Izzy, Gabby, Tori, and Kendall. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank you four for what you have done for this team and for instilling the pride you have in it in the underclassmen. You have been incredible leaders and role models, on and off the track. Thank you for showing me what it is to work so hard and have so much fun and love people so well. Each of you are going to make waves in the world and it has been such a privilege to get to walk with you this year. Thank you for entrusting your team to us. I promise we will take good care of it.

Freshman infielder Quincy McAfee of the Pepperdine baseball team tells us about the recent offensive explosion from the Waves, and about his transition from high school to college:
Quincy  McAfee

Q: The Waves are coming off quite the offensive showing with 43 runs in the past 4 games. What has clicked for the Waves in the past couple games?

A: I think just being able to stick to our approach and buying into the approach has really helped. We talk about sitting on fastballs and hitting fastballs, and I think that we have done that really well these past couple of weeks.

Q: How can you, as a team, continue to produce those kinds of numbers at the plate?

A: Just to continue to stick to that approach. Occasionally, we will come upon situations where we try to do too much instead of doing what we know and what we are comfortable with, and in those situations, we just need to trust our coaches and trust our approach.

Q: In the weeks before the offensive explosion, the bats were struggling a little bit. Has the coaching changed at all during the weeks, or has the team mentality changed?

A: I think it is a bit of both. It is really not fun as a hitter to not hit well and not produce runs for the team. So the want and need to produce is definitely up there. But I think that trust in our teammates and the mentality of the team has really improved and produced the runs that we need. Once one person gets going, there is really a ripple effect that takes place, and we just keep going.

Q: Historically, the baseball team has been a really close team. Do you think the family mentality contributes to the success of the team?

A: Yeah, everyone is definitely close. I think that it starts with the seniors. They do a great job of not separating themselves from the team. I also think that we as freshmen have done a good job following in the footsteps of the guys older than us. We all kind of mesh together, and it makes it easy to compete together.

Q: You are a freshman this year. How did the upperclassmen welcome you into the team? Were they pretty easy to get along with as soon as you arrived on campus?

A: Yeah, and it was a little surprising to me, because I had no idea what to expect. The first person I met when I first arrived on campus was Ben Rodriguez. He was extremely welcoming, as was Brandon Caruso, the second teammate I met on campus. The seniors have definitely been embracing us young guys and showing us the ropes.

Q: Coming to California all they way from Texas is a pretty big change. How has that transition been from high school to college?

A: Academically, it has definitely been a greater challenge. Being away from everyone, including our families, has been tough, but I think that all the guys on the team have made the transition a lot easier. They invite us all over to their apartments and houses, and make a point of hanging out with us. It's been really cool.

Q: Along that line, you moved out here with a familiar face. Your high school teammate, Brandt Belk, is also here playing baseball at Pepperdine. What was that like back at home? Did you guys make the decision together? Or did things just kind of work out?

A: Things just kind of worked out that way. Initially, he was going to Rice, and I was coming here. His going to Rice fell through, and there was always the option of coming out to Pepperdine. He ended up coming, and it was awesome being able to go to school with my best friend. Not only did we go out of state and into the same new state, but we also came to the same school. It definitely made the transition easier. It made it easier to go out and meet people and make friends.

Q: You came in and started playing right away. Was the move from high school baseball to college baseball a difficult one? Or did you feel real comfortable as soon as you stepped in?

A: It was a little difficult. I actually got a chance to play in the North Woods League, a college summer ball league, over summer. That experience made it a lot easier coming in to Pepperdine. Playing in the North Woods was really difficult at first. The game was faster, and the guys were bigger and stronger. I felt that when I first came out here, the first month or two of baseball really helped the transition.

Q: Finally, as we are in the middle of conference season now, what can we expect from the Waves the rest of the season?

A: Hopefully, a lot more games like the past couple weeks. Games where we score a lot of runs, and our pitchers continue to dominate on the mound.

Treet Allison is a freshman on the men's track team but his youthful status hasn't stopped him from already setting a few school records (400, 800 and 1,500 meters) while determinedly looking toward the future and working hard to meet his goals. He shares how his time at Pepperdine has been so far and what has helped him to transition and do well:

Treet  Allison

Q: So you've come in and already set some records as a freshman! How does that feel?

A: It feels great to be able to come in freshman year and be able to compete with other guys that are working hard. The progress is showing and it makes me feel confident about what the future holds.

Q: Did you think you would come into your freshman year starting off so well or has it been kind of a surprise for you?

A: Honestly this season has been a complete surprise to me so far. You always want to put in your best work and trust the system, and this time the training has really paid off quickly in the season. Now it's just time to see where we can go from here.

Q: What have you focused on to help you to do so well?

A: I have really been focused on working hard during practice with my middle distance workout group. Even when our bodies and minds are feeling done, everyone helps each other focus on getting through. When it comes to racing I continue to try to convince myself that I can stick with the faster guys and try to see how far my body can hurt before it quits.

Q: Has the transition been different or difficult at all, running track in college?

A: The transition to college running was a big jump for me last semester in cross country, when I came into a completely different state, altitude/terrain and atmosphere of living on my own. When I came back from winter break I had a better idea of what I was in for and so track season's training started up much more smoothly.

Q: What are your goals or what are you focusing on as you move forward?

A: For this season I really want to start getting my 1,500 meter time further down to a more regionally competitive time so that in the future I will be able to represent Pepperdine at the higher end of competition. 

Q: So your older brother also was a good runner for Pepperdine. Is running something your family all enjoys?

A: Yeah, my brother Seth Allison was a runner for Pepperdine from 2007-2011 and was basically the trend-setter for running in my family. Once he started and excelled in it, it caught on to the next three brothers and we picked it up and "ran" with it.

Q: So what is your background with running?

A:  My background of running started off with being dragged to every track and cross country meet my brothers competed in when I was younger. I remember doing a 10-11 mile race with my dad when I was around five and from then on I've had a particular taste for distance racing. I was inspired by my older brothers' success and dedication to becoming better each mile through pushing themselves to the limit.

Q: What do you like about the coaches at Pepperdine and your team?

A: I absolutely love Coach Rad, he's always pushing and expecting more of us each day. It doesn't matter if you're having a good day or a bad day, he understands that performing, no matter what the world is throwing at you, is part of what makes people successful. He's understanding to a very personal level, but also a driving force to get things done. I also love my team. We are all really close and share a brotherhood together. We are each in each other's lives to help get through rough times and to help push each other when we can't do it ourselves.

Freshman catcher Joe Caparis is having a big week, getting a walk-off single to lift the Waves over Gonzaga in Sunday's finale to win the series, and then hitting his first career home run against CSUN on Tuesday. He speaks about the nerves coming in as a freshman, as well becoming comfortable with his teammates:

Joe  Caparis

Q: The Waves just came off of a big series win against Gonzaga and another big win against CSUN. How do you feel these past two wins have been for the confidence of the team?

A: I think that going into the rest of our conference series, having one of those Tuesday games where we can explode on offense and show what we can do is huge for our confidence. We know that we can hit like that all the time, so it was nice to actually do it.

Q: You played a huge part in the win in the last game of the series against Gonzaga, getting the walk-off single to win the game. What did it feel like getting that game-winning hit?

A: I wanted to hit the ball hard. I knew that the guys behind me in the rest of the lineup would get it done, so I wasn't worried that we weren't going to do it. It honestly was really surprising that it was me to do it, knowing that I had been struggling that game at the plate. It was a really awesome feeling to get the win for the team.

Q: What have the nerves been like as a freshman coming in and playing as much as you have?

A: The first six or seven games that I played, my nerves were off the charts. Everything was all over the place. The pace of the game was so much faster than in high school. I couldn't keep up with everything going on in the game. But the past week and a half, two weeks or so, it has been starting to fall in place, both offensively and behind the plate. I think that getting the opportunity to get in the game and really show what you can do is really nice, because you never know how many games you are going to get to play.

Q: You mentioned that the nerves were off the charts. How have you been able to settle down and really get into a rhythm?

A: Knowing that I have already failed. I didn't do well at all for a couple games, and I heard about it from the coaches. I know that I am in there for a reason, and I wasn't going to lose this opportunity to go out and play the game I love, and play as well as I can.

Q: Along that point, did you expect to come in as a freshman and start the majority of games behind the plate? How have you become so comfortable back there?

A: Coming in as a freshman, I knew about Aaron (Barnett) and Austin (Bernard) and that they were both really experienced, and both coming off of great seasons last year. I just wanted to come in and compete. I didn't know what was going to happen, and I didn't expect what has happened. I kind of had it in the back of my head that they were going to get the majority of the playing time, so I wanted to use this year as a learning year and learn as much as I could from those guys, and be ready for when my opportunity did arise.

Q: Being a catcher, you have the unique perspective of working with both the position players and the pitchers, including the coaches. How does that help you know what is going on in the minds of the players and coaches when they make decisions?

A: When it comes to the pitchers, I think that it is extremely important to know each one of them personally. Knowing who they are, how they work and how they handle their struggles. A lot of it is also how I can help them through those struggles, whether it is keeping their eyes focused on the task at hand, or getting them through a tough inning. With the position players, we know that we are all playing a part behind our pitcher, and need to make plays behind them and for them, so we can give ourselves a chance to score some runs.

Q: How has the transition been from high school to college, both athletically, and academically?

A: It has been tough going from the academics in high school to the academics in college. Especially the time commitment. The average day in college is a lot more hectic, especially being a student-athlete. Overall you really need to be efficient to get the things done that you need to every day.

Q: What have you been able to learn from the upperclassmen so far this season? Both about baseball and about college life in general?

A: I have learned to work hard and get everything done, but also, more importantly, to enjoy the time here. We are out there with the guys more than with our own families during the year, so it is extremely important to become comfortable with each other and understand that we are all in this as a team.

Patricia Wong, a sophomore on the Pepperdine women's golf team, had a strong freshman year, placing third on the team in scoring average and earning All-WCC first team honors. Now as a sophomore, she's still one of the strong players on the team. She reflects on her freshman year, shares what she's learned, and what her goals are moving forward:
Patricia  Wong

Q: Having now been through one postseason run as a freshman, how do you think that experience will help this time around?

A: The more experience, the better! Having played WCCs and NCAA Regionals my freshman year gave me so much excitement and motivation for this year's WCCs and NCAA Regionals. It's important to stay in the moment and to reminisce the good shots from last year but also to look at the goal that's right in front. So moving forward, we want to make it further than Regionals. 

Q: Does it feel differently playing golf as a sophomore now as opposed to your freshman year?

A: I definitely feel like my freshman year, I had a lot of adjusting to do. Now as a sophomore, I know what it's like to be a full-time student and a full-time athlete and I don't need to adjust anymore. I just have to keep grinding and have fun out there. 

Q: What do you think you learned the most from your freshman year that you'll take with you as you move forward?

A: I think as a freshman, I played free and fearless. I had nothing to lose. It was just the beginning of my college career. And now that I'm a sophomore, I can learn from that mentality and trust myself to play fearlessly. 

Q: So you just got back from a match-play tournament, the SDSU March Mayhem, which is a different format than you typically play. What did you think about that? 

A: Instead of going against a whole field of players, it's just you and one other opponent, battling it out until the very last hole. It was intense and thrilling at the same time. I loved it!

Q: You won three of your four matches, so you were the Waves' most successful individual there. How does that feel?

A: I don't have much experience with match play, so for me to go out there and win three of my four matches, I learned a lot and it really showed me a different perspective of the game. But I definitely think the most special part of it was having my parents, family, friends and teammates out there watching and supporting me. 

Q: What are you focusing on for this season?

A: I am definitely focusing on having a positive attitude and mindset while I play and minimizing my mistakes on the course. I want to help the team as much as I can. At the same time, I want to enjoy every last bit of this season. It's sad to think I only have two years left!

Brittany Howard, a graduate transfer student, is a standout in her first season for the Pepperdine women's beach volleyball team. She shares with us what her journey was like coming from Stanford to Pepperdine and her experience here so far:
Brittany  Howard

Q: You were an indoor player at Stanford prior to coming to Pepperdine and played on Stanford's beach squad as well. What is the biggest difference you've noticed in adjusting to the beach?

A: I think the biggest difference is the ball control that is necessary. In beach, you have to touch the ball at least one or two times every play, so your skill set is much less specific compared to indoor. The transition for me has been easier because I was a six rotation outside, so I had to pass and hit a lot in that role. The biggest skill I have had to work on is my setting and placement for Corinne, my partner.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine for graduate school?

A: I wanted to come to Pepperdine because I have always wanted to live in Southern California. For me, when I had the opportunity to play for Nina and Marcio, I didn't think there could be a better fit or a better group of girls I could play with. I thought that it just made sense that I would come here and play.

Q: What is the team chemistry at Pepperdine like?

A: The team chemistry is so awesome. The girls were extremely welcoming to me and the other new players. Everyone gets along so well and we are a really awesome team of 19 girls. I love them all. We work hard together every day, we push each other and we are all very competitive, but we all really love each other and support each other.

Q: What are the biggest differences between Palo Alto and Malibu?

A: The most obvious difference is that Malibu is right on the water. In general, Palo Alto has more places to go eat and other things around. Whereas in Malibu, you have a few places you go and eat. Palo Alto is also very tech oriented and you always had people walking around the university in suits, which is very different than Malibu. However, I love them both equally, and have really enjoyed being in both places.

Q: Tell me about your connections with your coaches here.

A: I adore Nina, Marcio and Gustavo. When I was first deciding where I would play beach volleyball, I sent out a few emails and heard back quickly from Nina. I talked with Nina on the phone and pretty much committed. I fell in love with her and thought she was really honest and funny. Nina has just been great. She is just like our mother. She loves us so much, but she really does push us and want the best for us. Marcio has been awesome. He is one the best coaches, if not the best coach, in the world. Having such a great coach has helped all of us as we are developing. He is really funny as well. He is very intense, and I definitely learn a lot from him each day. Gustavo is just incredible. He matches Nina and Marcio's intensity. The three of them work together so well and they make a really fun environment for us to practice in every day.

Q: Is there something or someone that inspires you to compete?

A: My mom and I played volleyball together ever since I was really little. It started with us playing with a balloon in my house. She played in college and went to the Final Four three times. She played on the National Team and professionally, so she's always inspired me because she competed at the highest level there ever could have been. She is such a competitor and such a loving and kind person. Growing up, she has been extremely supportive and wants the best for me and is proud of me. I love competing and knowing that she is watching every game.

Q: How was your first competition as a Wave?

A: It was so incredible. I remember the morning of I had my alarm set for 7:00, and I woke up at 5:30 ready to go. I was completely ready by 6:15. If you know my roommate and I, we are not morning people, but we were both just so excited to compete. Going through the day I was extremely nervous because I realized that I had not competed in such a long time. We played against UCLA, who was ranked #3 at the time and we were ranked #4. It was the first time Corinne and I had played together. It was a really intense match against a really good UCLA team and we won in two. It was really exciting to get that done for our team. It was an incredible first match experience and it set the tone for how Corinne and I wanted to compete the rest of the year.

Q: You also cracked the #NCAATop10 video a few weeks ago at #7 with Corinne. How was it being seen on a national level and being the first beach team to get props on the inaugural top 10 list?

A: Oh wow! I didn't know that! I am so honored and humbled. That's really, really cool. I give a lot of that to Corinne. She is like my rock when we are out there. She is so confident and steady. There are balls that I cannot even imagine getting and she just gets them all the time. I think Corinne and I work really well together and work really hard. It is awesome that other people have noticed how well we work together.

Q: Who or what has impacted you the most here at Pepperdine?

A: My teammates. They have just been so awesome and so welcoming. I moved here and I didn't know a single person at Pepperdine. My roommate and I are both fifth years and we get along so great. The team was welcoming to us and everyone loves each other so much. I want the season to be longer because it feels like it is going by so quickly, but we are definitely going to make it count.

Michael Wexter, a sophomore on the Pepperdine men's volleyball team, gives us insight into his experience with the sport and his time here in Malibu:

Michael  Wexter

Q: Give us the insider scoop on how the season is going.

A: We are doing pretty well. I think that we surprised some teams, but we lost a few games that we should have won as well, so it is going both ways. As a team we are getting better every day.

Q: What is your favorite Marv-ism?

A: For sure, "I think we're good here." He basically says it whenever we are done with anything in practice.

Q: Who or what inspires you to compete?

A: I have always wanted to compete at the highest level as I could. Seeing professional athletes, such as the Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler, work really hard motivates me. For example, Butler came back into the season as an All-Star after having a decent season the year before and he was named the Most Improved Player. The reason that he got so much better was that over the summer he gave up all electronics and lived in a house with his friends. The only thing they could do when they got bored was go to the gym and workout. Seeing people who do stuff like that makes me realize that there are always people who are working harder than me and that's what makes me want to be so much better.

Q: Coming from Illinois, what do you miss most?

A: The pizza. Definitely the pizza. And then, of course, my family. The pizza out here is just not the same.

Q: Has your family been able to make it to watch you play?

A: My family has been able to come out both last year and this year. It is nice having them in the stands, but I really enjoying spending the time with them when I am not on the court. That's more important to me. The fact they get to watch me play is pretty cool too.

Q: What do you love most about living in Malibu?

A: The weather. I was never a big fan of winter, so coming here where it is 68 and sunny every single day is pretty nice. Last year, I put on shorts and a t-shirt every day and never looked at the weather.

Q: I heard that you did gymnastics in your youth? Tell me about that experience.

A: I started gymnastics when I was younger because my siblings were doing it and were good at it. I can't do anything cool anymore because what I learned all went away as I grew. I've got a pretty good cartwheel still, though. I think that gymnastics when you are younger helps a lot with hand-eye coordination, being stronger and being more active. It definitely made me stronger and want to compete more.

Q: Has did your family's involvement in athletics affect your decision to play volleyball?

A: Ever since I was a little kid, my family drove all over the place because my siblings had all of their practices and I did not really have a choice about going into athletics. There was a point when I was in basketball, soccer, football and volleyball all in the same season. I literally had days where I would have different practices all day, then I would go home and do homework and go to sleep.

Q: What do you see as your role on the team on and off the court?

A: I don't know what my role is, but I do know that it is changing as I get older. Last year, I was trying to learn as much as I could. Matt Tarantino was one of the best volleyball players I've ever seen. Coming from Chicago, I had to relearn volleyball to play at Pepperdine. This year, I think I am trying to be more of a leader on the court, but I am still a younger guy, so I just do my best to pitch in wherever I can.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at Pepperdine?

A: I have a pretty short-term memory when it comes to volleyball. A lot of the stuff I remember comes from watching film. I go back and rewatch all the plays I made. One of my favorite moments is probably when I came to my first open gym. I was so used to being at a certain level of play, but the other guys showed me that there was so much more competition and everyone pushed me to be there and get better.

Junior pitcher Max Gamboa tells us about the season so far, as well as giving us an inside look on how the Draft process works for professional baseball. The Waves take on Gonzaga in a three-game WCC series beginning Friday at Eddy D. Field Stadium.

Max  Gamboa

Q: The season has gotten off to a little bit of a rough start. What do you think needs to happen for the team to right the ship?

A: I think that we as a team need to come together and play like we know we can. The pitchers have been throwing well, and the hitters have been hitting well, we just need to have both do well on the same day. I think that we are figuring it out and just correcting the little things. Once the timely hitting and pitching come around on the same game, we will be fine. With the start of conference play, we are definitely eager to do well and represent Pepperdine well.

Q: What are some of the positives that the team is looking at in order to keep morale up in the clubhouse?

A: Joe Caparis had a four-hit game on Sunday as a freshman, which was huge. He has really stepped in when he has been called upon. I think that as pitchers, we know that the hitters are going to pick us up, and I'm sure the hitters know that we are going to pick them up as well. You can't really single one specific group out. I think that that is the biggest morale booster. We all know that it is going to come around, and we are doing our best to have it happen as soon as possible.

Q: As a junior, how has your leadership role changed as opposed to years past?

A: I think this year has been different because I knew that it was time for me to step into that role of a leader. It has been cool to be able to lead some of the younger guys and be able to share my perspective on things with them. I have been through ups and downs here at Pepperdine, so I know what the guys are going through. And credit needs to go to the younger guys as well. They are super receptive to the upperclassmen and don't brush them off when the upperclassmen are trying to help. Leading by example is extremely powerful, and that is what I try to do. Especially with the pitchers. I know exactly where they are, and I think that my experience can help them develop as players.

Q: This being your junior year, the MLB Draft may be on your mind. How can you keep the games being played now separate from that?

A: I try not to think about it. I try to focus on what is going on here at Pepperdine. I know that the rest of the guys that are getting looked at, including myself, want to do the best that we can for our school. We know that everything will work out, and the chips will fall where they may and that will be that. Right now, I am focused on nothing else but trying to win a WCC championship and get to the post-season and make a run to Omaha.

Q: Were you a touted prospect in high school when it came to the MLB Draft?

A: Not really. I wasn't one of the big blue-chip guys out of high school. I am fortunate enough to get the opportunity to come here to Pepperdine and learn as much as I have. The coaches, Hirty, Coop, and especially Garza have taught me so much, as well as Rod and Strauss before them. I have learned and matured a lot both on and off the field here at Pepperdine. I am so thankful for the opportunity that I have been given. I just want to take every opportunity I can and make this school and this program proud.

Q: For those of us who don't know about the MLB Draft process, what is it like?

A: It is pretty similar to any other job, to be honest. There are obviously differences, because of the nature of the job itself. Scouts will come out to see you play to try and see your strengths and weaknesses. They want to find out ways to improve their teams, and for players that they can develop into what they want and need. There is definitely an open conversation between the scouts and the athletes themselves. The big thing to keep in mind when this process is going on is to keep playing. It is no different playing without scouts there. We are still trying to win ball games regardless of whether there are scouts in the crowd or not. And if they see something they like, it is an added bonus. We just want to try to win games.

Q: Going forward with WCC play, what can we expect from the Waves as they continue a run toward post-season play?

A: I think you can expect really good things. We know where we are struggling and we know what we need to work on. We are taking steps toward fixing problems every single day, so I think that really great things are on the horizon for Pepperdine baseball. There is a saying that has been said around the clubhouse, "We are one game away from catching fire." A truer thing hasn't been said. Once we get going, we are going to run with it until the end of the season.

Clay Feagler, a freshman on the men's golf team, has posted three top-10 finishes and four top-20 results in four spring tournaments. He tells us about how he's made such a strong improvement between fall and spring, and about his time on the men's golf team so far in general:

Clay  Feagler

Q: You've had a really great spring season. Did you think you would make such an impact, this early on, as a freshman?

A: Yeah, I thought I could make a big impact, actually. I thought I could make a huge impact in the fall but unfortunately it didn't happen that way. I just wasn't comfortable with balancing school and golf. Also when it's your first semester you tend to be overwhelmed and I definitely was.

Q: There's been a big improvement and difference for you already between your fall and spring season. What made this difference? What did you work on to get better?

A: I think the biggest things that have made a difference are just playing my game and limiting mistakes on the golf course. My game has always been accuracy and during the fall I kind of strayed away from that. Also, when I was out playing golf, I would tend to think about assignments for school and just get distracted. The things I worked on were mostly mental and nothing mechanics-wise. I just really worked on having a calm demeanor on the golf course and not getting flustered.

Q: What's been your favorite moment so far throughout your whole freshman season?

A: My favorite moment so far was playing in front of the Pepperdine fans at North Ranch Country Club. Also, to win there in front of the people watching made it extra special. 

Q: What are your personal goals for the rest of the season?

A: My personal goal for the rest of the season is to finish every tournament for the rest of the year inside the top 15. If I sneak a top five or a win, then that's great.

Q: What are the team goals for the rest of the season?

A: Our team goals are to be inside the top 10 before the season is over and to win our conference.

Q: Why did you choose Pepperdine both to come to school to and in terms of the golf team?

A: I chose Pepperdine as a school because the coaches were great, the school was great, the size of the class was the perfect size for me and who would not like that view!

Q: What have you enjoyed most about the team so far?

A: The things I like most about the team are just the people that are on it. We have a great group of guys on it and having those guys care for you and root for you is just great.

Q: What do you like and enjoy about the coaches?

A: They are here to help you with your game and to get you to the next level. You can also go to them to talk about anything with them. They really care for you and that's what great coaches do.

Three Pepperdine women's volleyball players, Tarah Wylie, Hana Lishman and Jasmine Gross, were recently invited to try out for the U.S. Women's National Team in Colorado Springs. They shared with us their experience at the tryouts and updated us on what the team is doing in the coming months:

Jasmine  Gross  Hana  Lishman  Tarah  Wylie

Q: You all were recently received invite to try out for the U.S. Women's National Team. How did you all feel to be invited?

Wylie: It was amazing to know that Pepperdine would help us grow in our sport through this opportunity.

Lishman:  The most exciting part of getting the invitation was hearing and knowing that Pepperdine was there to support us with this awesome experience. Pepperdine gave us and allowed us to have this opportunity to continue our career and grow in our sport. 

Gross: I felt excited and grateful that Pepperdine was able to give me the opportunity to go after my goals and they were supportive in that.

Q: Describe the experience from day one through the tryout.

Wylie: We had four tryout sessions throughout three days. One on the first day, two on the second, and one on the third. It was mostly competition-based except for the first 30 minutes of every session where we got to warm up by positions. One of the coolest parts of this experience was having the opportunity to talk to other players from the West Coast Conference. I have friends on some of the teams we play against, but not many, and it was really special to form relationships with people I normally only see across the net.

Lishman: There were different sessions throughout the day. I was in the 6 o'clock session, while Tarah and Jasmine were in the 4 o'clock. While waiting, I walked around the training center, explored and met new girls from many different schools. On that first day of the tryout, we did some quick warm-up drills for passing, serving and hitting. Then the last hour or so of the session was playing games and wash drills. Throughout the entire tryouts, each session was about the same. Another cool thing about this tryout was meeting new people from other schools that we wouldn't normally come across.  Also, becoming good friends with the girls on teams that are in our conference was really fun. Normally, because we play against each other, we would be "rivals," but at the tryouts, that was set aside and it was very cool getting to know them and become good friends.

Gross: We got off the plane and went straight to the training camp, where we got room assignments and meal cards. One of my roommates played for BYU and the other one played for Michigan. Then we went to our first session where they separated each player by position using different colored shirts. Then we got into playing for about two hours. Then we went to dinner, took showers and got ready for the next day of tryouts. We did some skills like serving, passing and some hitting lines. Then we just competed by doing different scrimmage games. I had played against and with many of the girls throughout my club career. I played in the Under Armour All American game my senior year, so most of the girls who played in that match with me were at the tryout as well. The volleyball world is very small so all three of us knew many people.

Q: How did it make you feel to try out for a spot to compete on the national team, or on one of the three collegiate teams?

Lishman: While traveling there, the nerves were building up because I was very excited and anxious for the weekend.  I had no idea what to expect.  As each session went on, the nerves went away and the motivation and passion as to why I love and play this sport came pouring out.  Realizing I was there at the Olympic Training Center, trying out for the National Team was overwhelming, but a dream come true. 

Gross: It was a great experience, but it really humbled me by showing me how much work I still have left to do to reach my goal of being on the national team.

Q: Give us a final thought on your experience in Colorado Springs.

Wylie: It was our first experience with USA Volleyball and I know we were all excited to play and be noticed. It was a great opportunity for all of us and I am grateful that we get to grow our careers together.

Lishman: Being given the chance to represent my school, where I'm from, my coaches, and even my family was a great experience and opportunity.

Gross:  It was a great experience and I am hoping to try out again in the next few years

Q: You lost one of your assistant coaches a few weeks ago. Do you have any words of encouragement for Alex Dunphy, who has joined Minnesota's program?

Wylie: Alex Dunphy was one of the biggest reasons I came to Pepperdine and I have the upmost respect for her. She is a wonderfully talented coach and an even better person, so I know she will do nothing but be a star at Minnesota. They will soon figure out, if they haven't already, what an incredible asset she is for any program.

Lishman: Alex Dunphy was and still is an awesome coach. She knew how and when to be fun, but also knew how to be serious and get work done. She definitely made my freshman year experience memorable and manageable because she was constantly there to help me with not only volleyball, but school and life as well. I know she will do great things at Minnesota just as she did here at Pepperdine. I appreciate all she has done for my team and I, and I am very excited to see her accomplish new things!

Gross: I have already told Alex this, but we all miss her a lot. We know she has a great opportunity in Minnesota and we are all very excited to see her do big things.

Q: Now, how did you react learning that a Pepperdine Hall of Famer and former All-American, Julie (Rubenstein) Bennett, would be joining the coaching staff?

Wylie: When I first learned about Julie Bennett coming back to Pepperdine to coach us, I was excited to learn from a great player and Hall of Famer. Now I consider her a friend and she fits in with our team so well. I am looking forward to our time together!

Lishman: When I heard we had a new assistant, I, alongside my teammates, were thrilled. When we found out who it was, we were even more stoked because some, if not most, of us knew Julie and knew she was a great player here at Pepperdine.  With the time that I have had with her so far, she has already helped me in many ways with volleyball, and I am looking forward to more practices and seasons with her. 

Gross:  We are still in the process of getting to know Julie, and she has been so awesome. She brings new and helpful feedback as well as a great personality, so we are super stoked to have her.

Q: What are you doing in the off-season?

Wylie: The off-season is a busy time of the year for our team right now as we are currently in 20 hours. We are working hard every day to improve our team physically and mentally. It's an honor to be growing closer with my teammates every day and seeing them grow as people and players.

Lishman: Off-season is our big training season. We have practice at 6:30 a.m. every morning, then lifting or conditioning following that.  I really like spring training because it is a chance for our team to get strong, practice hard, improve and do whatever we can to prepare for our upcoming season, especially summer. 

Gross: Right now we are practicing every day from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays we have lifting. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have conditioning. We have a few spring matches as well. We played CSUN at Pepperdine a few weekends ago and we play at USC for a spring tournament on April 1st.

Q: The summer is coming up soon! Do you have any big plans?

Wylie: This summer our team is going on a European Tour and I could not be any more excited. This will be a summer for the books. I get to play volleyball while traveling the world with my best friends and I am looking forward to seeing how our team matches up to the international teams we will compete against.

Lishman: This summer, our team will be traveling to Europe to play some professional teams.  We leave May 22, and are going to many different cities and countries such as Milan, Venice, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovenia. We are all very excited for this trip because many of us haven't been out of the country yet and this is a great time for our team to come together and go through this life-changing experience that some of us may never have the chance to do again.

Gross: We are going to Europe as a team to play at the end of May. This is very exciting for us and we are really looking forward to not only expanding our view on the world, but expanding our volleyball skills as well.

Talya Holenstein is a freshman on the women's track team. Already in her career, she set the school's 400-meter record in just her second outdoor meet (since re-broken by Izzy Connell) and Holenstein was part of relay teams that set both the 4x100 and the 4x400 records. She reflects on what this was like for her and how her time with Pepperdine has been so far overall:

Talya  Holenstein

Q: You've set some records pretty early on in your career. How has that experience been for you?

A: I would definitely say that being a part of the relays and getting to break the school records in both of them has been the highlight of my season thus far. Breaking personal records is great, but there is something to be said for joining together with three other girls and getting to do it together. I was especially happy being able to contribute to this goal for two of our senior girls who have been wanting to break the relay records since they were freshmen. I'm glad I got to be a part of that with them.  

Q: What's it like as a freshman doing so well so early? Did you think you had a shot at school records when you came on?

A: Coming to Pepperdine, I knew that I would fit in well with the program and could have a shot at the school records during my time here. I've been really pleased with what I've been able to accomplish thus far, a lot of which stems from having strong upper-class runners who push me every day in practice and set the bar high.   

Q: What's your background with running?

A: Running and the sport of track and field have been a part of my entire life. Both of my parents ran in college. My mom was an 800 runner at UC Irvine and my dad a decathlete at Portland State University. So growing up, it was always a big part of our family, and I grew to love the sport as well. 

Q: What led you to come to Pepperdine?

A: I came to Pepperdine for several reasons, one of which was to live and train in warm weather for a change (I'm from Portland, Oregon). But besides the climate and location, I really appreciated the small community Pepperdine had to offer, which was something I was looking for in a college. 

Q: What do you like about the track team?

A: My favorite thing about our team is the crazy dynamic and atmosphere we have. We are definitely a team that jokes around a lot, meaning there is never a dull moment. When you spend so much time together it's important to keep things fun, and we do a really good job of that. 

Q: What are your goals and hopes for running, as you move forward?

A: Moving forward, my short-term goals are to just keep working my times down, especially in the 400. If I could get to a low 56 by the end of the season, that would be a really good start for me to work off of for the next three years. I also really hope to lower our school records in both of the relays before the season is up because I know we are capable, it's just a matter of all the working parts coming together. 

Q: What are your goals for school?

A: As of right now, I am an undecided major, so one of my goals is to figure out a career path during my time here. But in the meantime, I just hope to continue to get good grades and put in the effort at school as my main priority.

Senior outfielder Matt Gelalich tells us about the non-conference season, preparing for West Coast Conference play and his post-baseball aspirations. The Waves host three games this weekend, two against Grand Canyon and one versus Long Beach State.
Matt  Gelalich

Q: The season is off and running, with the last non-conference series this weekend. How has the non-conference season been going for the Waves?

A: I think it has been going well. Probably not as great as we would have liked, but we have a lot of promise. There is a ton of talent on this team, and we just need to put it all together, and I think that we will be fine.

Q: What are some of the adjustments that need to be made before WCC play begins?

A: I think it is a matter of just firing on all cylinders. There have been games where our pitchers have been unhittable, but we couldn't hit, and there have been games where we are hitting well, and our pitchers haven't been as good. We just need to get both sides of the ball on the same page in the same game, and we will be off and running.

Q: How important is non-conference play to the team?

A: It's huge. We have a lot of tough non-conference opponents on our schedule this year, and at the end of the year, if you don't win conference, how you play against non-conference teams is what gives you your RPI and an at-large bid to a regional. We know this, and we make sure we take it extremely seriously.

Q: Is WCC play something the team looks forward to with extra hunger? Or do you try to keep the games as just another series?

A: It is definitely something we look forward to. We think that we are the best team in the conference, and we like going out to the other teams and proving it. It is going to be a fun year for sure.

Q: Are there any specific series that the team is looking forward to?

A: We always look forward to the San Diego series. They are always really good, we are always really good, and the games are some of the most competitive of the entire year. Plus, we always like to beat them. They are definitely one of the biggest rivalries we have.

Q: This being your senior year, is there a little extra weight on the way the season plays out?

A:  I don't think so, I am just trying to have fun. This might be my last year playing the game, so I just want to leave it all on the field and have no regrets looking back on my career.

Q: With draft implications, are you looking to play ball after college, or are you going to hang up the spikes and move to post-baseball life?

A: I would love to keep playing if I get the opportunity to. That is something that will play out how it plays out, and if I am lucky enough to have the opportunity, I want to make the most of it, but if not, I am fine with ending my career as a Pepperdine Wave.

Q: Speaking of the post-baseball, what, when baseball finally does end, is your plan? Grad school?

A: I am going to be applying to dental school this summer if I don't get to continue playing. Hopefully that works out, because along with playing baseball, I have wanted to be a dentist ever since I was little. Regardless of the outcome of baseball, I know that I will be happy doing what I love doing.

Freshman RHP Wil Jensen has begun his first year off strong and has earned the role as the Waves' Sunday starting pitcher. He speaks about being a first-year student-athlete on the baseball team and at Pepperdine, along with the challenges that come along with that:

Wil  Jensen

Q: As a freshman, you came in and were immediately being put into a starting role. What has that been like?

A: It was definitely unexpected, but I have been super happy to have the chance to come in and show them what I have to offer, and hopefully I get the chance to continue to do so.

Q: What were the nerves like in the first couple outings, and how did you overcome them?

A: To be honest, I'm not sure if I truly overcame them, but rather I tried to use them as a motivating factor rather than a hindrance.

Q: How has the transition from high school to college been athletically?

A: With pitching, your mistakes hurt you a whole lot more in college. If you miss your spot, the hitters will really take advantage of you, where in high school, I had a little more leeway with the mistakes that I made.

Q: Has the transition academically been as easy as athletically?

A: Pepperdine is definitely a tough school academically. There is definitely way more work than in high school, and the work is more vigorous. It is hard, but still fun at the same time.

Q: As a freshman, you are obviously going to be here for at least a couple years. What are your goals for this year, your first in college baseball?

A: My goals this year as a freshman are to keep my ERA below 5. I definitely think that is reasonable and attainable. I also want to help the team make a regional, and then a Super Regional as well.

Q: Why did you choose to come to Pepperdine to play baseball?

A: I chose Pepperdine for two very specific people: pitching coach Rolando Garza, and strength and conditioning coach Stew Gonzales. Those two individuals together made Pepperdine the best place for me to come and improve. Those two coaches along with the academic reputation of the school made it an easy choice.

Q: Being from Utah, what have been both the hardest and easiest parts of coming to school here?

A: When I first moved to college, I didn't think that being away from home was going to affect me as much as it does. Not being able to see family is tough. However, meeting the people that I have and making the personal growth has made coming to Pepperdine completely worth it.

Delaney Knudsen, a senior on the women's beach volleyball team, has a great track record. She was part of the 2014 AVCA national championship team, helped lead the team to win the inaugural 2016 West Coast Conference Tournament crown and is a three-time Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete. With the season now here, Delaney talks about what she's looking forward to and how her four years on the team has been:

Delaney  Knudsen

Q: Since you're so close to the start of the season what are you looking forward to most?

A: I am really looking forward to competition. There is a special feeling when you get to actually compete and represent your school that is impossible to recreate in practice and I can't wait for it.

Q: How does it feel to be heading into your senior year as a Wave?

A: It's a very unique feeling to be in my senior year. I feel like just yesterday I was a freshman because the time has flown, but at the same time I know that I have grown and learned so much over the past four years that have made me a very different person!

Q: What are you looking forward to and most excited about as you head into your senior year on the team?

A: I am definitely most excited about the team we have this season. We have a lot of new girls and the dynamic on our team is just amazing this year. It's been awesome grinding with them all of fall and preseason, and I'm excited to take on all the challenges and victories of this season with all of them.

Q: How is the team playing so far?

A: I'm stoked at how everyone is playing this year! The level of hard work and competitive drive has been so high and we've all seen a lot of improvement. It's been a very motivating and rewarding year as far as training goes and I can't wait to see how that translates when the season comes.

Q: Was there a lot of playing in the off-season to prepare for the upcoming season?

A: We have done a lot of competing this off-season to keep us prepared for the season, notably more than in previous years, and it has been so great. We compete in a variety of different formats, but it keeps everyone fired up and working hard and it's been a major contributor to the motivation I feel on our team.

Q: You have lots of new faces on the team this year -- how are they fitting in?

A: I honestly could not have asked for a better group of newcomers this year. Both our freshmen and the transfers we got have fit in perfectly with our team. They each added their own unique sense of humor or fire to the mix and have only improved the team dynamic and culture.

Q: How are they changing the overall team dynamic? What's it been like?

A: I think that the addition of some new fifth-year transfers has been awesome because they bring the high standards that they have learned over their careers at other colleges that keep us accountable, but they also have this attitude of humble hard work, being new to our program, that is an amazing example to the rest of us too. Our freshmen are new to the standards and challenges of being a student-athlete, but they have all embraced it with 100% commitment and it has been so awesome and inspiring to see their improvement over the past few months. 

Q: What is it like to have Zuma Beach as a home court? How is it different and what do you like about it?

A: I love Zuma Beach! I could not ask for a better home court. It's absolutely gorgeous every single day, and with a 2-6 p.m. practice block we are usually cleaning up the courts as the sun sets and it's just beautiful. Weather is a huge factor playing on the beach as opposed to the man-made courts that other schools have. It's a huge advantage to be able to train in all the elements when they come, and to still have a handful of perfect days too.

Q: What's your favorite memory with the team?

A: I think my favorite memory with this team so far was bonding over our fall conditioning tests. The format of our workout was such that everyone had to be giving their maximum effort, and it was done in two waves so there was always someone cheering you on. It was really cool to have the opportunity to push my teammates to reach their goals and to also feel their support while I was working my hardest to reach mine. It set a high standard of mutual support and effort for the rest of the off-season that has been met over and over again.

Q: What's your favorite memory of playing so far?

A: My favorite memory playing so far has to be winning a national championship my freshman year. Nothing compares to that feeling and I'm going to do everything I can to help my team earn that again this year.